By: Rashida Ntotela
Date: January 22nd 2016
Source: Cii News
It seems the African National Congress (ANC) has a long way to go in redressing the historical injustice of land dispossession, denial of access to land and forced removals in South Africa.
Since coming to power in 1994, the ruling ANC’s land reform policy that is based on a willing seller-willing buyer model, has sought to redistribute wealth to blacks by imposing rules that require industries to sell stakes in companies to black investors.
Speaking at the ANC’s 104th birthday in Rustenburg recently, President Jacob Zuma questioned why the state was paying for “stolen land”.
Channel Islam’s Ebrahim Gangat spoke to Associate Prof. Ruth Hall, Institute for Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies about the president’s statement on land reform.
“Land is a symbolic question in SA, we call it the national question,”she aired.
What Zuma is saying is quiet contrary to what government is doing about land, Prof. Hall said.
However, this showed a desire from the president of trying to address the issue of economic justice and freedom, she continued.
“We should distinguish between the land issue as an economic demand-a demand for restitution and redistribution of wealth vs land as a symbol of dispossession and apartheid rules.”
The big question here is what political manoeuvre is president Zuma involved with that led him to make that statement?
It is reported that the ANC Youth League President Collen Maine also said the youth wing will be visiting Zimbabwe to research that country’s land reform programme.
We must bear in mind that land reform policies of each country are informed by that country’s colonial experiences, and many of these countries can drive into the same route travelled by Zimbabwe, Prof. Hall insinuated.
However, in the same breath, mentioned that inequalities are visibly noticeable in South Africa,but South Africa is very different to Zimbabwe.
“We don’t have the formula right at all”, she addressed.
The problem with the willing buyer and willing seller principle is that it has not worked, and President Zuma has admitted to that. The principle created room for land owners to charge exorbitant prices when selling land especially to government.
“Up to 80% of people in rural areas want land or more land. People in the urban areas want land for settlement.”
The budget for redistributing land and land claim process (restitution) have declined by over a billion rand in the past 3 years she said.
Prof. Hall, like many South Africans and policy makers shared the sentiment that the South African populous has a very narrow understanding of transforming land relations because the land claims process has lead to people claiming out cash that bears no relationship to the actual current value of land.
“So people are frustrated”, she said. Only about 7 % of agricultural land has been transferred into black ownership through all aspects of land reform, and this is after 20 years of the programme Prof. Hall elaborated.
Prof. Hall’s critique of the land reform process at present is, “to say here is a large commercial farm and who can farm it, the answer to that is, not the poor!”
Now almost 20 years into democracy, landless people hope that the government will do more to redistribute a third of the country’s farm land from white owned farmers to the black majority.
Black people need their ancestral land. Many of them aim to utilise it for agricultural purposes. Without land, it will be impossible for them to participate in the mainstream economy.
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